Our sign in peace

Our sign in peace
Our sign in peace

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Prepping wool for spinning

Not all fibers are prepped the same way. Often they can be combed, spun from the locks or if you are lucky to have it mill prepped, it will make the process faster. Above is some of the hand dyed Lincoln wool I did earlier.

What I found with the Lincoln wool is that you really need to pull it apart into almost a frizzy frenzy. I also combed it with a hand carder. There is a lot of lanolin in this wool so it needs to be prepped properly. 

When it is prepped properly it spins up amazingly! 

This is a lovely, strong yarn but the most wonderful part is the colors and the softness. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The young and the old bee

I was watching the honeybees yesterday on the Autumn  Joy Sedum. I took this picture because it shows two phases of the foragers. The bee on the bottom is a younger forager while the bee on the top is older. You ask how could I know this? As a honeybee ages, she looses the hairs on the top of her thorax plate. This is often an indicator of age of a honeybee. A honeybee becomes a forager at about the half way point of her life. Our honeybees are extremely busy collecting all they can.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Results to "Dye" for!

Sadly the pictures don't come close to the results. Cameras just can't pick up the quality of the color and the variant blends.In the picture above, I wanted to blend the colors of the sea. As summer is coming to a close, my best time spent this summer was at the beach so I wanted to create a fleece in those colors, and I did! 

This portion of the 9 pound Lincoln fleece was dyed in shades of purples and lavenders. The blends and the locks came out amazing!

This fleece was black with a heavy dose of reds which ultimately resulted in a deep and variegated burgundy color. When I saw the results it remind me of a dress a saloon singer would have worn in the good old wild wild west.

In this fleece I wanted a lot of pastels. The light blue bled with some other colors and you can see the only small amount that came through in the middle right of the picture. The softness of this fleece is so nice and the variance of the colors down the locks is beautiful too!

This final fleece was my favorite! The colors remind me of a carpet bag set in Victorian times! I used at least 7 different dyes in this one and they blended beautifully! Once again soft and easy to get the just right colors!
Now to begin some spinning as the weather is a cool early fall here in Connecticut.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

That Dye Pot time of year

The weather here in Connecticut has been cool and beautiful. Perfect dyeing weather for boiling dye pots. With the 9 pounds of Lincoln wool I cleaned it was time to begin dyeing and getting ready for the fall shows.

I have pretty much switched over to Pro Chem dyes. Their colors are warm and dye perfect. The color holds so nice and their selections of colors are limitless. 

I was going good for the colors of the sea and I was quite pleased. Once the fleeces are dried I will post the finished results.

Most of the batches I dyed fractioning the dyes which gives not only different colors but as its absorbed different shades as well

While still drying, this fleece has different variants of purples and lavenders.

While boiling it tends to look like a hot mess, but the end results are amazing.

This fleece while still drying reminded me of a Victorian woman's dress. Using black and burgundy shades, I look at it and am taken back to a simpler time.

Once again, fractioning the dyes, results with 6 different dyes

So fleeces are still drying, the variant of color came out quite nice. Once dry I will post the results of the fleeces. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Working through the wool stash

Now that summer is winding down, it's time to get into the wool stash and begin washing, processing, dyeing and spinning. I'm beginning to see a problem around here with a room, basement and barn filled with wool and fiber bags.

The locks are beautiful, long and soft.

The lanolin in this wool is amazing. The water is literally beading off my hand as I worked and washed the wool

The water was the color of coffee as I began to wash it with a wool wash soap. It took about 4 rinses to begin running clear.

This is what 9 pounds of Lincoln wool looks like as it drys. Now to put some thoughts into some colorways and get busy!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Predator and Prey

You just cannot have farming without the constant threat of predators. That threat happened here yesterday with a hawk attack on ours as well as our neighbors chickens. Just as I heard the warning get calls from the roosters I quickly slipped on my shoes and spun around in time to see a red shoulder hawk come right down on this pretty girl above. As I was running our dog Autumn was right on the situation. The hawk had dragged her into a bunch of pricker bushes. Autumn couldn't get to it but I jumped in, the hawk released and flew off to our neighbors yard and grabbed one of their chickens! We quickly ran over and got the chicken away, she flew up into a tree and Autumn paced and barked. Our neighbor came out to the scene and quickly began hazing methods to get the hawk to fly off. Both chickens are fine but a little traumatized over their ordeal.

I just don't know what I would do without my side kick. She has prevented more attacks than I can count. A street dog we adopted a few years ago has become our greatest tool in the never ending predator and Prey struggle.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Making the felted cut

When the soap doesn't quite make the cut, it's made into felted soap! Odd shaped bars are just perfect for this.

With some wonderfully soft merino, the soaps are wrapped I  many thick layers, plunged in hot water allowing the wool to shrink and tightened around the soaps.

From there they are left to dry and then embellished with design.

All packaged and ready for our November show!!! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

One last ditch effort...

Well hive 3 continues to struggle, did not raise a queen and if this doesn't get them jump started I just don't know what will. This frame shows a completely emerged bunch of bees with no food. The are healthy, calm and willing to work.

I gave them this frame from another hive. It is filled with eggs, larvae and capped brood. There is also honey stores to get them jumped started.  As you can see , I offered them this frame and they took to it quickly. This will be a last attempt to get this hive on track. It is getting late in the season for this hive to rebound in time for fall. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meet PJ!!!

Meet our little PJ! She is Peachy's daughter and is the most opposite of her mother that a bunny canot be. We call her Peachy Jr because she looks just like her mother. She is the sweetest, most relaxed bunny. Here I was brushing and plucking her out and she relaxed so much that her leg was hanging off the bench. Just an easy going little girl!

The ring of color in her wool is very nice too! Looking forward to what she has to offer as a wooler!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Getting another box...

Well the swarm that was caught on Memorial Day has done so well that it earned another hive body! I couldn't be more pleased with this swarm that was gifted to us. The queen is fantastic and has delivered in every way! Onto them continuing to grow! A true hive success!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The gaze of the broody hen

Oh the deep dark gaze of the broody hen as she sits on her eggs, day in and day out. I feel so bad for them as I collect their eggs leaving their fake egg behind. Nature is the only thing that will make her break the hypnotic state of a broody hen. Sadly we can't let them all sit, we just wait for that blank stare to show their spirit again.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Happenings in the Apiary

Last week while poking around in the Apiary, I discovered that hive 2 finally has a queen! I found this beautiful lady along with some eggs and larve! I guickly grabbed her and marked her. So happy to finally see this struggling hive make a turn around.

Hive 1 had many queen cells of  just one frame so I too, that opportunity to attempt another split for hive 3, closed the girls in for a couple of days. If they are not successful this time we will call it and shut it down until next year.

Today I decided to take a quick peak and feed them. Good thing I went up completely suited up! They were by the book aggressive which is a sign they are raising a queen!! This is them rushing up between the feeder tl get at me, thankfully there was a screen between us. We will look in our  them next week for what I hope is positive signs!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Going Live!!!

A long overdue project has been getting our bear fence installed! Clearing the area has been quite the chore. We had trees, shrubs and leaves to clear.

We ran the fence and realized it was a lot more than we needed but we made do. This gives us a bigger bee yard and a larger range in the event the bear returns. He will have a lot of problem solving that he is not ready for and hopefully will get enough of a jolt to go away. 12 volts can knock you on your behind.

The trick was making the fence more taunt so Tim added some poles with plastic poles around that. This was at the advice of another beekeeper friend who's yard I visited and this was his trick. 

We mounted the energizer which was at the advice of some other beekeepers who's yard I also visited. A lot of research went into installing this fence.

After a phone call to my beekeeper friend on how to get this thing going, we got it hooked up and of course Tim was right! He wanted to hook it up inside and I wanted it outside and I am quickly realizing he was right! After a few stings he got from the bees, I am going to have to eat some humble pie and move this thing! Those are live wires that go to the ground and the fence. It's all trial and error when we take on such a task. We are not electricians! However I have more piece of mind about my hives now.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A little "Pride" in our soaps

I made these soaps a few months back. They are finally cured and smell amazing! These are Milk and Honey scented. So I thought I would makeep some felted soaps.

I had some dyed merino wool which was perfect for the soaps.

Merino reacts well to hot water and agitation. This will encourage it to shrink around the soap and act like a washcloth so to speak.

You really have to repeat the process a few times especially to get the best results, hot water, agitation and adding more wool completes the process.

The finished process! These are our special "Pride" soaps, every color of the rainbow just like we all are, each unique and beautiful! Happy Pride month from  Coon Hollow Farm!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Looking ahead...

With a little down time after a very busy Spring of work around here, two of my three jobs on Summer break, I am able to get some things done. It's never too early to work towards the Fall shows! I have been dyeing some merino wool that I had bought sometime back.

Separating and packaging them for felting kits and other things that I will be using the wool for. Merino is such a soft wool and felts incredible too!

So far, many small batts made in one dozen packs. Ready and packed away for Fall shows that you can never be too prepared for! Don't worry, there will be time for play! These were our best sellers in the Spring show so either way they will go fast!